"Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." -- Philippians 4:5
Sometimes when talking with my teenager, the tone of his voice gets louder and louder during the course of the conversation and I find myself saying to him, "Why are you yelling? I'm right here!" There are times when I, too, become harsh in my conversation with others and must remind myself that "a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). Why is it that we feel the only way to get our point across is to do it loudly and harshly?
In Philippians 4:5, Paul writes, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near." How many times have I felt embarrassed or uncomfortable because of arguments I have had in the presence of others or have been subjected to as an innocent bystander? We should all be mindful that at all times and in all places the Lord is near enough to hear everything we say and that perhaps he, too, is hurt by the way we communicate with one another. There are times when we must be emphatic in our speech, but never should we be abusive.
The next time you feel yourself reaching the boiling point in a conversation, remind yourself to be gentle because the Lord is near. Use a hushed, deliberate tone instead of yelling to make your point, especially when talking with your children. "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark" (James 3:5b) and ask God to help you control your tongue. It is possible, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to say what you mean without being mean in the process.
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